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The 3 Most Heroic Uses Of 3D Printing

From rebuilding faces to helping a duck to walk, is there nothing you can’t do with a 3D printer?

Whilst using the super computer in your pocket to play a Flappy Bird knock-off and send pictures of your junk to strangers, it’s easy to forget that technological advances have uses outside of the toilet cubicle. Take 3D printers, for example: When first unveiled, the internet rejoiced that it finally had a more efficient way to craft custom bongs and dubious weaponry, but 3D printing is also being used to do some pretty damn heroic things. Things like...

Rebuilding A Guys Face

Stephen Power of Cardiff, Wales, claims he can’t actually remember how he came to be in a near-fatal motorcycle accident, so we’re going to assume that he was ramping school buses at the time. Regardless of how the accident happened, though, the result was tragic, with Power landing on his face, which is one of the top three body parts you don’t want to land on (the other two being left ball and right ball, in no particular order). Despite wearing a helmet, Stephen went from “a fairly good looking guy” to somebody who felt he “had to disguise his face in public,” such was the extent of the damage. This is where 3D printing technology came in. Using a CT scan to make a map of Power’s skull, a 3D printer was able to produce perfect plate implants to recreate the symmetry in his face, months after the actual injuries had been sustained. There is no word yet on whether a viable Cage/Travolta face transplant is in the works, but it’s surely only a matter of time.

Helping A Duck To Walk

The phrase “lame duck” gets thrown around a lot, with little consideration for the feelings of physically disadvantaged ducks – ducks such as Buttercup. Buttercup was born with a backward-turning foot, but rather than simply shrugging and crawling into a crispy pancake with some plum sauce, as nature intended, Buttercup was given over to a wildlife sanctuary. This is where he met the sanctuary’s software engineer, Mike Gary. After presumably getting dizzy watching Buttercup walk around in endless circles, Mike decided that enough was enough. Photographing the foot of Buttercup’s able-footed sister, he had a 3D printing company, NovaPrint, make up a prosthetic. Now Buttercup can walk with his head held high, as demonstrated in a video that is bound to attract attention to the dust in your eye, or possibly the person nearby chopping onions.

Raising The Dead

You’d be right in thinking that raising the dead usually falls into evil wizard territory, but 3D printing is being used to give a new lease on life to deceased historical figures. Famously used in verifying the remains of Richard III, UK scientists used scans of the skull to design and print a replica of the dead king’s head, the results of which seem to suggest that Richey liked to unwind with a bong or three. The trend doesn’t stop there, though, as scientists are also endeavoring to create a 3D replica of King Tut, as well as using the technology to print out accurate replicas of dinosaur skeletons. Not only is this a boon to the study of long extinct animals, but it is surely the first steps towards the Jurassic Park we were all promised so many years ago.

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